Planning Office undergoing renovations2/26/09

Feb. 26, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Residents entering the planning and zoning office will notice some changes in the coming weeks.

In an effort to expand the office and make it easier for the public to research plans, a new reception area is being created, Planning  Director Ken Belliveau said. The renovations aim to make the office more accessible to the public, he added.

The office, located on the first floor of the Town Hall Annex, used to house the Williston Police Department. Now, the former police reception area will become the planning office’s reception area. Planning Technician Carol Daigle will move her desk into the new, refurbished room, which will be the first office someone sees upon entering the building.

Belliveau said if it worked for the police, it could work for the Planning Department.

“Why not have our reception over here,” Belliveau said.

To connect the new reception area with the rest of the office, town workers this weekend blasted a new door through a wall that had been built up with granite and brick. The workers are actually creating a door where one used to exist. Much of the planning office is located in a building extension from the 1950s, Public Works Director Neil Boyden said. When the extension was built, the old door was boarded up.

“It was a door, then it wasn’t a door, and now it’s a door again,” Boyden said.

Daigle’s former desk, in what used to be the reception room for the planning office, will hold one to two desks for the public, developers and paralegals to do research on the town’s development projects.

Belliveau said the public currently only has a few places, including a large conference room, to review documents and plans in the office. When that room is in use, there is hardly any space for the public, he said.

Belliveau said the existing entrance to the Planning Office will soon be locked and closed off, making Daigle’s reception area the only way to get into the office.

Belliveau said there is $20,000 available for the project in a construction fund that became available this year. Boyden said the cost of the renovations would most likely be $6,000 to $7,00 — a high estimate, in his opinion.

Boyden said there are also plans to create another office near the main conference room, but that won’t happen right away.

“We don’t really have the need for it yet, but it does give us the flexibility for an office,” Boyden said.

Belliveau also wants the office’s windows replaced in the near future to maximize energy efficiency in the building.